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Now to the story...

New South Wales landmarks to get Aboriginal names

Extract from the Sydeny Morning Herald, on June 7th 2001.
Story by: James Woodford, Environment Writer

The Royal Botanic Gardens, MtKosciuszko and LaPerouse would all be candidates to receive an Aboriginal name under a State Government plan affecting every geographical feature in NSW.

Standing on Bennelong Point yesterday as the new policy of dual names was revealed, the manager of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council's land rights unit, Mr Tom Smith, called for names such as La Perouse to be relegated to history.

"La Perouse is offensive to Aboriginal people," he said.

The new State-wide dual-naming policy would include sandhills, billabongs, mountains, cliffs and harbours, but not man-made structures.

Address names such as those of suburbs and localities would also be exempt from the dual-naming policy.

At a joint press conference, Mr Smith said the Sydney Harbour Bridge had a new importance to Australians since the Reconciliation Walk last year, and it should be renamed to reflect this.

This was something of a surprise to the minister with responsibility for the Geographical Names Board, Mr Yeadon, who said: "I would have no trouble with a debate about the bridge being renamed the Reconciliation Bridge."

But it seems Sydneysiders are not ready to hang the cloak of reconciliation on the Coathanger.

As the commercial airwaves crackled with criticism of a new name for the bridge, the NSW Land Council released a statement denying it wanted the bridge to be renamed the Reconciliation Bridge.

"The new policy as outlined by the State Government applies only to geographical sites and not man-made structures," said the council's chairman, Mr Rod Towney.

"However, those who've responded hysterically to the suggestion of an Aboriginal as well as an English name for the ... bridge should be reminded that already their vocabulary is full of Aboriginal words.

"Of course there are the obvious examples like Uluru, but right here in Sydney you only have to look as far as the inner-city suburbs of Woolloomooloo and Kirribilli."

The Premier, Mr Carr, did not want to comment on the matter.

The Geographical Names Board has a policy for new place names that gives preference to names with Aboriginal origins.

The guidelines for the policy say: "A dual-naming system may be used for the naming of physical and environmental features of significance to the local Aboriginal community."

There must be historic evidence "in the form of written or oral tradition" that the feature has two names.

"The name cannot be a new name assigned for the purpose of a tribute etc," the draft guidelines say.

Also, there must be an agreed single spelling of the Aboriginal name.



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